Democracy's loss is our gain…

A Machiavellian Primer: How we will lose the battle and win the war in Iran

American people don’t vote in large numbers; turnouts are depressingly low. It may be a collective action problem, but the Americans just don’t have to vote in numbers. They know their country is in good shape, and they know—so does Gallup—that a few voters can make educated choices.

However, when people do go to polls in unprecedented numbers, it is only to vote out an old flawed government. A referendum on the existing government, a large turnout is a sign that many people are angry with the old government. That is why it is surprising that last Friday, people elected the old government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, despite a large turnout.

Or did they? I am not going to dwell on the ‘irregularities’, we can create something productive, something useful out of this rigged election. Yes, Machiavellian it may seems but we are jolly well going to get a profit out of this god-send (or should I say Allah-send) opportunity.

As Washington begin its proposal for negotiations with Tehran, we all know that the power lies with the ayatollahs and not with the elected officials. Ahmadinejad is an irrational, but ironically enough, predicable character. Using his past words, the U.S. can get a win-win situation out of his second term—if Ahmedinajed negotiate, it can lead to a peaceful Middle East. If he does not, he is repudiating his (doubtful) words on rapprochement with the West and he also risks losing the confidence of now-already-sour Iranian people.

However, on the other hand, with Moussavi, we lose our biggest card—Ahmadinejad himself. The megalomaniacal president calling Israel’s annihilation is someone we love to hate. He is our Hitler. His bland opponent is more unyielding than Ahmadinejad on the nuclear issue, and lacks the support of the ayatollahs. Negotiating with him will lead us nowhere.

Speaking of the ayatollahs, now that they themselves are advocating for an electoral investigation, use the UN to send overseers. If they allow it, it is a step towards transparency. If they don’t, it is as good as a signed admission that the election is rigged.

Well, actually, it is rigged—we know it. The Russians know it and the Chinese do too. Should we be trumpeting this fact and alienating not only the ayatollahs but also the people who still pride that theirs is at least a ‘democratic’ country compared to many others in the Middle East? Instead, we should use the diplomatic brokering to convince the Europeans—France, Great Britain and Germany in particular—that their conciliatory approach towards Iran is not actually working, and that nations like Libya or Iran could never be democracies through negotiations.

Elsewhere in the world, Ahmadinejad’s win is a god-send card. In Iraq, it is their ‘Red Scare’ card. With President Obama’s troop withdrawal plans, the Iraqis should cast aside their religious and ethnic differences and come together as a nation—and a US ally at that. A hardliner regime in Iran can help this. In Egypt and Saudi Arabia–which don’t want a Shia (Iran) bomb–this election puts a leverage on their leadership. Now, with Ahmadinejad’s win, they have to try their best to aid US in containing Iran. Reciprocally, the US can use ‘nuclear proliferation’ card with China and Russia even more strongly now. In Israel, Netanyahu–with his hardliner agenda–is smiling. The US can now finally explain why undemocratic Iran or its irrational leadership threatens Eastern Europe and therefore necessitate a missile shield. The Russians won’t buy it, but they will have to live with it.

When the mullahs of Iran deliver a lemon, we will not only to make lemonade out of it, but also shove it down their throats. Mills of God grind slowly but …


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